Sitting in healthAbility, a phone alarm sounds prompting Maureen to remind her husband that it’s time to take his tablet. Life changed rapidly last year for Maureen when in February her husband of 55 years was diagnosed with a disease that led her to become his Carer. “I just drifted into it; it was something that had to happen. It’s a bit like when you have kids, there are things you have to do and you just go ahead and do them.” Maureen is grateful their five children have grown up and moved away from their nearby home, allowing her to focus on taking care of both herself and her husband.
With this startling new diagnosis and role, Maureen didn’t know where to turn so she phoned healthAbility and they immediately connected them to the Australian Government’s My Aged Care system and everything snowballed from there. Maureen explains, “When we got the letter to say he had a care package I came back to healthAbility to get guidance as to what the next step was. We could have gone elsewhere but I asked, ‘could we come here?’ because everything we had done here previously had been positive. We were assigned a Case Manager, who was absolutely fantastic.”
Podiatry is what initially introduced the couple to healthAbility’s many services. “It’s great coming in here, from the moment you walk in everyone on the front reception are so nice and friendly, which makes you feel so comfortable. When I was in here I would pick up the information and get connected to the other programs. In the beginning I wanted to know everything about everything so I tended to jump in. We’ve done many programs, to improve mobility, strength and lifestyle.”
Her husband’s freedom and confidence has eroded over the years with multiple diseases leaving him with a shuffling walk and a deteriorating memory. He now relies heavily on Maureen to organize his daily life such as remembering dates, times, appointments and medication. With her new role as full time Carer, Maureen joined healthAbility’s Carer’s Support Group called ‘Caring Together’ and has gained great solace from their monthly sessions.
Presently over 2.7 million Australian’s provide care and support to a family member or friend with a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness or who are frail aged. Facilitated by an Occupational Therapist, the Caring Together group highlights the importance of carers caring for their own wellbeing, as many are at risk of social isolation and loneliness.
“The group starts the two-hour session with a mindfulness exercise, which is grounding, I really love that,” shares Maureen. Guest speakers address a range of health related topics, as well as keeping everyone abreast of new support services updates and initiatives.
“The guest speakers have been really, really informative and I’ve learnt a lot listening and sharing with the other carers. I am in awe of these other carers, they are just incredible.” – Maureen
Maureen’s discussion with the Occupational Therapist during one of these sessions led to having a home assessment. Subsequently they now have additional funding for home improvements and maintenance; handrails were installed around the house, their home is cleaned fortnightly and their garden maintained.
Maureen struggles to remember all that she has attended and achieved through visiting healthAbility because the list is long. “I’ve done the Healthy Eating Activity and Lifestyle program, HEAL™ and seen a dietitian, and even go to the dentist here now at Healthy Bite Dental.”
“It’s a great place here, they’ve got everything.” – Maureen